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The Journey

500 km all for nothing? A story of love and commitment!

       Maybe I am a novice, novice in love. I travelled about 500 km from Vadodara to Banswara and back in a span of 12 hours, just to remember the old times of my life. It was a journey that defined my life. I never expected I would travel so much. I asked some of my friends, whether it was possible. I got mixed replies. But none were convincing. It was doable but not practical for someone who had to stay within the confinements of an institution.

I decided to go with my heart. The night, I couldn’t sleep well. I had rented a motorbike around 6:00 pm in the evening for the next day. I had a heaviness in my chest. Felt difficulty in breathing. So, I decided I wouldn’t go, to calm my anxious brain. It was 2:30 am in the morning that I finally convinced myself that I wouldn’t undertake the journey that helped me relax. Somehow I managed to sleep. It was 5:40 am in the morning when my alarm rang. I was drowsy, and so decided to sleep more. 3 hours of sleep wouldn’t help me. I was more likely to fall asleep in my journey and commit error while driving. It could put my life or others at risk. I reminded myself, I wasn’t driving to Banswara. When we take a major decision in our life, it’s natural to be anxious. It was a major decision for me. I had planned to leave at 6:00 am if I wanted to go to Banswara. I switched off my alarm and dozed off. It was 7:30 am in the morning. I had already missed one and half hour of my journey, if I had intended to go to Banswara. And by the time I was ready to leave I was already 2 hours late.

I looked at the sky. Fortunately the weather was clear. Maybe it was the will of God that I should take a plunge to my dream destination. I decided to go, and if anything would go wrong I would return without completing my journey. At least I tried, and wouldn’t have a feeling of regret. I know it wasn’t a wise decision. To travel without achieving anything except the self-satisfaction of having travelled to the place where your spouse was. Just to feel her vibes and invoke the old memories of togetherness and love. We don’t reason in love and faith. We are none the wise. These things never go together.

I set off from my place just before 8:00 am. I had to return back to Vadodara by 8:00 pm. That was the deadline for returning the motorcycle from the guy I had rented. It was a new Bajaj CT100. A 100 cc engine capacity would take a single man anywhere. I traveled in ambivalence leaving everything to God and the situation. If it would rain, I would cancel the trip. If something happened to the bike, if I met with an accident or even if I took a wrong turn and lost my way even for half an hour, I would cancel my trip and return. Well, it was these assumptions I made to relax my mind. I couldn’t just travel with a good concentration if my mind was preoccupied. A good concentration/attention is necessary when you are the driver on a highway.

I silently said my prayers and asked God to help me in my journey. “Himmat-e Banda Madad-e Khuda.” That’s what I thought. Every now and then I would stop and take a look at the map, to see if I was going right. It significantly delayed my journey. At one place I stopped and checked the motorcycle tyres. It needed air. There was a garage nearby with air pump. At that point, I considered giving up. It was past 10:00 am and I had travelled only about 70-80 km. As I deliberated, I looked back into my life. I didn’t have another day or another chance. Two days later, I would be giving my exam and after that I had to get my no dues. And then the next day I would be leaving for my duty to a far-off place. Well, I had already booked my train tickets. I had a connecting train, and cancelling the tickets was next to impossible. I consoled myself. I would travel up to 1:00 pm and then return back. 5 hours of going, and some time for the engine to cool. 5 hours of returning. I would still be on time.

With my motorcycle ready, I set off again. The maximum speed I could take was 70 km/h. Beyond that the wind turbulence increased and the motorcycle shook. And to add to my woes, the helmet that I wore didn’t have a proper strap to hold to my chin. Sometimes, due to a gush of wind the helmet would try to come off my head. I had the dual headache of controlling the bike and the helmet. A 60 km/h speed was fine.

I don’t know, but sometimes my instinct guided me along the way. At a fork I stopped and checked the map. There were many forks where I hadn’t stopped. And if I had travelled as usual, I would have missed the correct path. I looked at the sky. It was cloudy and a drop of rain fell on my arms. I prayed silently, that everything go good. God was providing me with good weather so that I could drive easily without sweating in the hot sun. I checked the map and changed my path accordingly.

Now the weariness and fatigue started getting into my body. I hadn’t in my life travelled more than 100 km at a stretch. And here I was travelling or intending to do so, five times my upper limit. Sitting on the bike continuously for the last 3 hours was a pain in the ass. I thought I would get sores on my buttocks. My body posture was so maintained that I began to feel back-ache. But I ignored these minor elements and focused on my end goal. In life, we have many reasons to quit something and lay blame on someone else. But if we do have one reason, just one sufficient reason to proceed on, then it’s our fault for not trying hard enough.

I wasn’t a good biker. I was afraid of the big trucks and fast moving cars. I would drive slowly and carefully, and would rarely overtake a fast moving vehicle. I would usually stay behind the large trucks as long as I felt I was safe. Only last week I had met with an accident on the same bike at a place near Champaner and I had wounds on my palm and knee. Though, it had healed considerably, but the fear still lurked in my brain. I had so many things to fear and could easily justify myself for cancelling my journey. But that’s where man takes decision to quit and have a regret all his life. Or to do it, doesn’t matter what the results are, and have no regrets when dying.

As I travelled I was bestowed with the sight of picturesque scenes. The outcome of persevering in one’s journey are often blessed with desirable desserts. The scenes which I may watched in movies were before my eyesight. It soothed my brain. Well, even if I failed I would still be rewarded with the beauty I saw in my journey. There were hills, jungles, rivers, and beautiful landscapes. I didn’t have time to stop and take their picture, so I just watched and etched everything in my memory. I don’t know if there would be a next time, but if there would be, I would certainly wait and watch. And the good thing was, though it was cloudy at some point of time, it didn’t rain.

It was past 1:00 pm, when I first saw the signpost- Banswara 67 km. My joy knew no bounds. It was another hour journey. But as per the plan in my mind, I had to return. Should I continue or should I return? Missed my goal by 70 km would be a regret. If I stopped, maybe I would regret I should have travelled those 70 km. And if I didn’t stop, I may get late. I don’t prefer driving after dusk. My eyesight is poor. I wear spectacles with high power. And the glare of headlights of vehicles makes me nearly blind on the road. I would never make it back before 8:00 pm if I continued on. It was a dilemma. Each stage of our life is filled with these sort of dilemma, whether we should pursue on our goals or say a good-bye and get into our realm of comfort zone.

Those few moments that I pondered over the bridge, taking a few pictures and recording my own video. I decided to carry on. I had crossed a state and I should definitely reach my goal. I comforted my mind, that on my return I would stop at some place in a hotel and would travel again the next morning. I would inform the motorcycle owner that I would return the next day. And I would take off early in the morning to reach my class on time. The master knew all of us well as we were only 26 in number. That somehow calmed my brain and I continued on my journey.

The road to Banswara was filled with pot-holes and had traffic that slowed me considerably. Now came the worst part. The mobile data network was gone. Without internet I was like a blind man seeking my way in a dark alley. I cursed myself for not downloading the map and pictures I had in my Google photos. And I cursed myself for not keeping a dual sim. I only had one Reliance Jio sim. It was past two, and I asked several passerby the way.

But I was there at last. Yes, I had reached Banswara. But I didn’t know where to go. I didn’t know the name of the restaurant, I had to visit. And I had limited time. At least some memorable place where I last been. Here I was with a non-functioning mobile data. I travelled around on my motorbike trying to remember where I had been a year and half back. Just to aid me, there was one picture when I searched Banswara in my Google photos, about a tall glass building called Ajanta Towers. Taking that as a reference, I furtively searched my old memories. And then I don’t know, but you can say God helps those who help themselves, the hotel where I had last stayed materialized before my eyes. It brought back all the memories. How I had held the hand of my love under the table. Yes, finally I had arrived. It was a tiresome and apprehensive journey. But it was a journey that filled my soul to the core. It gave a feeling of satisfaction, I can’t explain. The emotions that welled up inside me, gave me inner happiness. Just beholding the place of my stay about a year and half back! What had I to gain from it? Nothing! My love wasn’t there. It was just a piece of memory. If I had been a wise man, I would never have undertaken the journey without having some purposeful objective. But a man in love is never wise, and some journeys are taken to satisfy the subjective mind and the inner soul. We don’t gain anything out of it, except for the experience. “I love you and I miss you. That’s what brought me here to your place.” I said aloud. I thanked God for giving me a chance to see His creations and having filled my goal. Many things could have befallen which could have prevented me from completing my journey. But here I was all in myself, relishing the joy of fulfillment.   

It was a six and half hour journey from Vadodara to Banswara. It was half past two. On the way, I had stopped nowhere significantly, except for one place, that is to fill air in the tyres of motorcycle, which took about 5 minutes. Once I had stopped to refuel the motorcycle. And at one place I stopped to buy a dozen bananas, of which I ate two, sitting on my bike. I had kept the remainder in my bag. The banana seller told me to be careful as it was Corona time and if I got sick due to the journey, I would be packed in some corona hospital. I just smiled at him.

I hadn’t eaten my breakfast and neither anything on the journey except for the two bananas. Well, it was half-past two, and I began my return journey. The motorcycle renter had told me to stop frequently to avoid overheating of the engine. “It’s only a 100 cc engine and not meant for a 500 km journey,” he had said. Well, I touched the engine and it was very hot. I couldn’t wait for long, but I had to make my return journey. I had to cut down my journey by an hour at least if I were to reach on time. But I had in my mind (to prevent anxiety) that I could stop anywhere at a hotel and travel next morning. The class would be at 9:00 am. I would easily reach there much before that.

I continued my return journey. My body-ache grew. But this time, I had a self-satisfied smile on my face. “I did it, I did it,” rang in my mind. I thanked God profusely. I didn’t have to rely much on the maps. I saw the roads, and the greenery around me and could easily make out the familiarity of the path I had travelled earlier during the day. I stopped at a few places to take pictures. Once I crossed the Rajasthan-Gujarat border, I chanced to see a message on my mobile. It was written, “As per government instructions Internet services have been stopped in your area till further notice.” I understood why there was no internet in Banswara. I hadn’t seen the message then. The internet service was restored once I was back to Gujarat. Anyway, I had crossed the hurdle.

But another problem which I faced was the battery charge in my mobile phone. It was only 20%. Though I had wisely taken my mobile charger along with me, but stopping anywhere to charge my mobile would significantly take away a lot of precious daylight hours. It was 96% when I had begun my journey in the morning. It was about 170 km remaining, and the mobile charge was dissipating fast. I would be able to find my way easily during the day but once darkness sets in, the surroundings seems different. They have a different look and it’s difficult to say if you had been there during the day. Using my mobile would render me with 0% battery. A dead mobile is a useless mobile. So, now instead of looking at my cell phone in case of confusion about the paths, I relied more on my memory. I read the road signposts carefully. And having travelled for so long, I began to get more expertise as a driver. I could drive easily at 70 km/h overtaking trucks and other motorcyclists. I had tied the strap belt so that my helmet stayed somewhat fixed on my head.

The overhead sun came down, and it began to get dark. I was around 96 km away from Vadodara. Well, I had to travel about 100 km in insufficient light. It was around 6:30 pm. Could I manage or should I drive slowly at 40 km/h and reach late, but safe? Well, safety was of prime importance. But what if I could drive well even at 60-70 km/h at night? That was when I felt a unison with the motorcycle I was driving. 400 km of journey together with my motorbike had made us almost one. I felt full I was in control of my motorcycle. I raced, and the cars whizzed by me. I steered through the dark road full of lighted vehicles like it was the easiest thing for me. Until then I had never travelled at such speed in the dark. I had always been cautious, and would slow down whenever I saw the headlight of a vehicle coming from a distance. But it was my day, and I traveled surefootedly and I travelled fast. One thing that I kept in my mind that people get relaxed during the last part of their journey, and lose their attention. They are prone to commit more errors. I kept reminding myself, that there can always be a slip between the cup and lip. Can’t celebrate until I have completed my journey!

It was 7:30 pm, when I reached the outskirts of Vadodara. I took out my mobile. Around 6% of the battery was left. And about 6.5 km of journey was left within the city. There would be traffic at this time. I looked into the phone and memorized the map, and drove at full speed which I hadn’t ever done before in the city. I saw for the first time, that there were road signs even inside the city. I usually overlooked these signs because I had the Google map. I reached my destination well ahead, a quarter to eight.

Do I need to say, how much my body ached. 12 hours journey on motorbike! Ate nothing but two bananas. Drank a glass of water, while I was refueling my bike. My butts were sore. My back felt crooked. When I hit my bed, my whole body groaned. There were grease and dirt on my face. Grease had accumulated at the corner of my eyelids. Even while lying, it hurt. But my mind was relaxed. It was in peace. Last night, my body didn’t pain but my mind was restless. But tonight, my body ached, but my mind was quenched. 2% battery was left when I finally plugged in the charger!

Dear friends, we all have our own problems and to some the solution may seem easy but for others it may be difficult. It’s easy for someone to say that a kid in nursery has to remember only the rhymes. But that’s tough work for him. It may be easy for a man to propose a lady, but it’s difficult for an adolescent. It may be easy for a racer to drive 500 km in a day, but a novice would find driving even 10 km difficult. And a wounded racer would find even 1 km journey a very long one. We all are wrapped with our own problems which may seem tough at the present time but when we see retrospectively, we realize, we could have tried, for that was what life was all about…   

The Journey Reviewed by Polymath on 7:37 pm Rating: 5

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